Jun 26 2013, 3:59am CDT | by Sumayah Aamir
Whether it is Google or Yahoo or MSN, the problem remains the same. You excitedly go to a link only to be disappointed because it turns out to be an advertisement. This issue has increasingly come up in recent times. It is a source of much irritation. The FTC has warned the search engines to clean up their act. The distinction between commercial ads and informational results ought to be clear cut. FTC updates its ad disclosure guidelines and these were conveyed to several search engines which include the likes of Google and Yahoo. A pact had been reached ten years ago and that had to be followed to the letter.
Consumer groups and industrial firms have requested that these actions be implemented. The way to accomplish all this is also stated in a letter by the FTC to the relevant search engines. The basic conundrum is one of differentiating ads from results. The usage of labels and design elements in the separation of the two radically different entities has been explored. That is necessary for being able to differentiate between the two on the search engine page. Whether the search occurs via an application or a voice-based command system is irrelevant. The set standards, decided upon since the beginning, are still applicable. A search engine’s failure to pay heed to these guidance policies will result in damage to its reputation.
Besides Google and Yahoo quite a few other search engines were handed the notice too. These included: DuckDuckGo, Ask.com, Bing and Blekko. Over 17 remaining search engines too received the summons. The search engines will have to be vigilant from now onwards. The time was ripe for an update of the guidance policies. The slackening of standards had been bothering the FTC. So it finally decided to get tough. The methodology used by search engines has been a constantly evolving thing. The warning letter by the FTC though comes at a time when the ads had proliferated to a bothersome extent. Wherever a Net user clicked on the results page, an annoying ad would appear. To rectify this situation the search engines will have to make a solid effort. And that will take time.
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